Monday, 8 February 2016

LIFESTYLE: Valentines Day Shopping At Brent Cross

Last week, I got an email from the team at Brent Cross inviting me along for a day of Valentines shopping which was really super exciting! 
Where I went to school, it was a mix of Essex or North Londoners so you either spend your weekends at Lakeside or Brent Cross. Obviously for me, I grew up going to Lakeside so I was actually really excited when I got Andrew to agree to drive us there this weekend. Funnily enough, it  took exactly the same amount of time to drive there as it does lakeside and as a spoiler I actually liked it just as much.

We started our trip by having a little wander around, not buying anything just yet, I wanted to see what the place had and I was very pleased to spot all the usual suspects in New Look, Topshop, River Island, LUSH ect but I was also very pleased to spot a rare Victorias Secret, Yankee Candle and even the Bad Brownie Co stand.
I've never been to a Fenwick before so I didn't really know about all the cute little places to eat inside! It wasn't exactly a food hall but with a Cafe Nero and Patisserie Valerie along with THREE, it was pretty well equipped for a little hour break from shopping. THREE was all done up last year and it was still looking very fresh, clean and as good as new from what I could tell. After I saw the menu, I was very excited to eat there so we stopped off for lunch.
You might know that last week, I went a bit crazy for avo toast, I had already had it twice but this time, I had my avo toast with smoked salmon which was a nice change, not just because I haven't done it with salmon recently but also because of the incredible quality of it there. Ask Andrew, I am super picky when it comes to smoked salmon and if it's not perfect, I just wont eat it, but I finished off the whole plate - it was delicious. As for the avo? Creamy, chunky mixed in with chopped tomato for that extra freshness - super! 
Andrew (like Juanita) is also very predictable (and easy) when it comes to breakfast. Scrambled eggs.
I was pretty stuffed from all the food but after I spotted this strange hot chocolate menu, I couldn't not try one! I went for the raspberry dream. The whipped cream and marshmallows were a treat but I'll be honest, I wasn't a huge fan of the drink, it tasted a bit to herby for me and I just didn't get the hit of raspberry that I was hoping for.
After fueling up, we were ready to take on the shops. The center is small but seemed to have everything I needed, there was a really good selection of shops which also meant Andrew went for a good 5 hours before he got bored and started moaning. There was also alot less hustle and bustle than what we are used to with other London shopping locations. It was nice to be bit more relaxed as we wandered around rather than jumping out of the way and spending 20 minutes in line at every shop.

As for Valentines Day shopping, they have that covered, lets just say they are very well prepared for the big day. The shops either had their own Valentines Day ranges all set up with hearts like LUSH, LOLAS & John Lewis for example and the others settled with Valentines Day picks from their current range which really did make shopping for it really very easy.


 I spend most of my time in Victoria's Secret and ended up spending a cheeky £100 just in there but I am very please with my new purchases. VS is seriously the perfect valentines day gift. I also picked up another box of Charbonnel truffles and with them being in a red box, I had a great excuse to try a new flavour and I couldn't help myself when I found the Kate Spade stand in John Lewis as well.

 I'm hoping just to get a cute photo of what I bought so maybe I can show you guys what I got in my February roundup post later this month!
Anyway, very successful shopping trip if you ask me. When I can convince Andrew that the ten minutes of traffic that we hit of the way home really wasn't such a big deal, I'm sure we will be back for our next splurge.
Dress / Converse / Michael Kors Bag

Huge thanks to Brent Cross to providing a gift card for some shopping and THREE for the complimentary lunch. All Opinions are 100% honest and my own

Thursday, 4 February 2016

LIFESTYLE: How I Celebrated #NationalBreakfastWeek

So you guys know all about my snack drawer but did you ever wonder what I keep in the other two drawers? Well one if them is quite practical, it has contact lenses, two pairs of spare shoes, an emergency tote bag and all sorts of stuff like that but the bottom one? 
That's full of cereal! On a work day, breakfast consists of a cup of cold water, a cup of hot water and a packet of choice with almond milk but with National Breakfast Week last week 24-30 January 2016, I managed to squeeze in a couple of exciting breakfasts too!

Bills

 I took Andrew out for breakfast before we went to our hotel last week. He hadn't been to Bills so seeing as there was one of the same road at the hotel, it was the perfect time to visit! I'd never heard of St Martins Courtyard but it was the cutest little space away from the hussle and bussle of Covent Garden. I can find poached eggs in Essex but finding them with avocado is much harder but it's cool, Bills had that covered! Andrew went for his usual salmon and scrambled eggs!

We finished off with a chocolate brownie milkshake and a peppermint tea!

St Martins Lane

Although I only stayed here one night last week, I actually ended up having breakfast here twice. Maybe you remember my first one from this post? Breakfast was included in the stay so we had the whole works brought up to the room. Fruit salad, granola, juice, toast, tea and of course eggs! Andrew had his with bacon and of course I had mine with hollandaise.. oh and spinach.
So that was that, but later in the week, I was back at the hotel for the Barry M press day and they had a lovely continental spread. Look how pretty these platters were?!


Saucer & Spritz

A new Oasis store popped up on Tottenham Court Road recently and I walk past it everyday on my way to work, but this isn't a normal Oasis, it has a hair and nail salon upstairs as well as a cute little restaurant and bar!

Juanita and I popped in for brunch this week and fell in love with the place. Downstairs is a normal shop but upstairs is the cutest little cafe you have ever seen! It had a bit of a kitsch feel to it with mismatched chairs and tables, neon lights and cute little throw pillows but seriously, it was the loveliest place to spend a lunch hour.

As for the food, we are so pleased we have finally found a place nearby that we can get our eggs. Juanita only ever talks about getting her scrambled eggs and I have the same deal with avo and poached so it was really the perfect place for us. We will definitely be back for more.

and yes, we went back two days later and ate the same thing all over again..

How Did You Celebrate?

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Sunday, 31 January 2016

LIFESTLYE: Phone Case Wishlist

When it comes to phone cases I am still a child most of the time! I am always after something fun and cute to make a boring everyday thing a little bit more exciting!

I have a really awkward Samsung S5 which makes finding these sorts of cases really hard. But recently, I have come across a few super cute cases so I thought I'd put together a little wishlist to show you guys what I have spotted.
Good old ebay eh? As you can imagine, this is always my first point of call when it comes to cases and numbers 1 & 5 are both from here. I love the smooth metallic cases I have been seeing on iphones everywhere at the moment so I was very pleased to see that I could get a Samsung version on ebay for a grand total of £1.99. Incredible price, plus it comes in rose gold!

Number 5, as I said, was also ebay and a little bit pricier at £3.99 but look at the duckies they are so cute and I can imagine this particular case being pretty entertaining!

I love anything with a smiley face on it so this pineapple case from Claires is right up my street. I currently have their strawberry one on my phone which I got for Christmas.

Minnie & Tigger both come from a japanese site called Rakuten. They were kind enough to gift me some credit as part of a valentines day campaign which I have coming up soon so I think I will treat myself to these two! I love that they are different to the usual run of the mill Disney style cases I've come across in the past so I like those two!

There is one sensible choice in this wishlist and that comes in the form of this heavy duty patriot protective case from tech21 which provides all round protection.

And lastly I was very pleased to spot a rare Samsung case on the skinny dip site last week in a super cute design. Not only does it have googly eyes but its also covered in cute little pugs with wings!

Thursday, 28 January 2016

LIFESTYLE: Gilgamesh, Camden

I've mentioned Gilgamesh on here a couple of times in the past because it has been one of my favourite restaurants the past 4 or 5 years - so when an email popped into my inbox to come along and try the set menu I was more than a little excited!
I first when to Gilgamesh with my family when I was about 18. We were back again the week after and soon enough my parents decided they liked it so much that they booked my brothers Bar Mitzvah there. Since then it has become one of those special occasion places that we love to visit! I thought I'd bring Georgia along with me as its only fair - she has never been before so I thought it would be a nice treat for her too. 
At the entrance of Camden market, just before the bridge, the venue itself is unlike any other restaurant in London. You go up a mysterious escalator in the middle of the street to discover a massive space at the top. It has a very beachy sunset vibe with dimmed red lights, palm trees and amazing wooden carving in everything from the bar, to the table and chairs. You could easily forget you're still in London.

We were treated to a pretty amazing table, a large round one that seated the group of seven next to us. From there we had an amazing view of the whole restaurant which for a people watcher like me was absolutely amazing.
As per usual, we started off with a cocktail each - a belini to toast to Georgia starting her new internship and of course they were delicious. We loved the pretty ornate glasses they came in too! While we got through them, we perused the £55 set menu. 
I love taking Georgia along on my reviews! Not only is she great company, but it's also a great way to see how well a restaurant deals with a gluten free customer. Let me tell you, Gilgamesh have that one covered. They went above and beyond for her and I was really impressed. She called up beforehand to see how they go about it all and they said if we let them know which main she wanted, they'd make sure not to marinate it so that's what we did! When we arrived though, they sorted out her starters with the sauce separate and her very own gluten free soy sauce as well, I didn't even know that stuff existed.
The food was as good as I remembered. There were a few dishes on the set menu that'd I'd tried before like the duck and watermelon salad and a couple of new ones too. The salad was so refreshing and delicious with chunks of watermelon, shredded hoisin duck, pomegranate seeds and cashews. 
We had a bowl of edemame beans which are always a good call for the two of us and the most incredible salmon sashimi, I've never seen such thick, luscious pieces of salmon. It came from a whole separate sushi bar area of the resturant. 
And on top of all of that, there were prawn spring rolls which were thin and crispy tubes stuffed with the biggest juiciest giant prawns.
After another cocktail, it was time for the main course! We both went for salmon (Georgias without the sauce) which came with fragrant, fluffy coconut rice and pak choi - all perfectly cooked. We also ordered a side of chinese mushrooms which we were fighting over because they were so good.  
Dessert arrived and disappeared within seconds so I don't have any photos - sorry. Georgia went for three scoops of sorbet since she couldn't handle a proper dessert after all that food haha. I had a burnt milk panna cotta which is a dessert I haven't really had before! It came all pretty on a plate with red sauce, berries and bits of ripped up pistachio cake plus a scoop of lime sorbet. The panna cotta was dense and delicious, I really enjoyed it! I was also glad to have the sorbet because it was sharp and cleansing which is just what you need after a big meal. 

Obviously, we finished off the evening with another cocktails and a little bit more people watching from our amazing table. We spend a good two and a half hours in there and the time absolutely flew by, we would have happily stayed a few more hours if it wasn't a Thursday and I was on the wrong side of London.

I really do count this place as one of my favourite in London and I definitely recommend you visit if you get a chance!

Monday, 25 January 2016

LIFESTLYE: The St Martins Lane Hotel, Andrews 25th

Andrew hates having his birthday in January, but I don't know why - it's the perfect excuse to indulge in some more celebrations a few weeks after all the excitement of Christmas has fizzled out. 

We wanted to try some where new this time, so after staying at both The Mondrian and The Sanderson a few times last year (two of our favourite places) we thought we'd try out the third of the Morgans hotels in London - The St Martins Lane Hotel.
 After a lovely breakfast at Bills just down the road, we popped over to the hotel at around 12 to see when we could check in. Officially its meant to be 3pm but it's always worth checking earlier just in case. It just so happened that our room had just been cleaned so we were able to go up near enough straight away - although I would have been happy to hang around in the lobby for a bit longer, it was pretty cool in a really strange, chilled kind of way. You know, giant golden teeth as seats and chess pieces scattered around.
It actually has the same Alice in Wonderland vibe that The Sanderson has going on and was something we really love about it! After arriving at the 6th floor we found our room! It was perfectly clean with everything in its place, minimal and very white. There was a big TV, an arm chair in the corner, a desk and seat on the other side and a big mirror - perfect for getting ready in front of!
 and of course, a huge bed. After playing around with every single light switch, as you do, I discovered two very exciting things! Firstly, there were USB plugs everywhere which is something I love in a hotel room - so helpful! I also found a colour changing mood light around the bed which was so much fun! We left it on blue while we got ready for the evening, pink when we were watching TV in bed afterwards and yellow in the morning!
Little did Andrew know, I'd emailed beforehand to let them know it was his birthday and the lovely Guest Experience Manager, Belle, made sure we got a room with a view. It really was incredible, from bed we were able to see the London Eye which really was amazing when it got dark.
I also wanted to give a mention to the rest of the staff at the hotel. I think out of all the hotels we have stayed at in London, they were the quickest to get things done for us as well as being super friendly the whole way through. All the way from Christian who checked us in at reception to the room service who sent up a tea set within 5 minutes of asking for it and the technician who was up as soon as he found out we couldn't get the TV working. And when we did, we were very pleased to see it had a catch up facility and spend the next couple of hours catching up on First Dates.
Once we were settled, there was a knock at the door - Another surprise for Andrew that I had arranged with Belle earlier that week.. 
 Massive thanks to Belle for all of this. We had agreed on a plate of strawberries and a glass of fizz each so I was just as surprised as Andrew when a whole bottle arrived! She really does her job well, my emails always got a fast, friendly reply and the things she helped me arrange added so much to our stay!  
Soon enough it was time to start getting ready and boy, was I glad for the use of that huge mirror - I brought four outfits with me and spend forever deciding which to wear. In the end, I went for this maroon, eyelash bodycon with some simple strappy heels. 
We hopped in a a cab to STK and spend the evening there - I've got a whole other post of that. We decided it was best to walk back to the hotel afterwards since it was a lovely evening and we both needed to let the food go down. After picking up some snacks on the way we were straight back to the room to catch Take Me Out on +1.
We had the best sleep surrounded by big fluffy pillows and woke up in the morning to the sound of church bells outside somewhere, I spent ages just sitting up in bed looking out of the window, it was so lovely. Soon enough there was another knock on the door and a table full of food was wheeled in! I do love a hotel breakfast and if the other two hotels were anything to go by, this was going to be good.
Obviously, I ordered the eggs florentine, it's my favourite breakfast dish ever and obviously it was delicious. I also had a fresh fruit salad and a bowl of yogurt with granola too. I ate it all together, there was just too much to try to bother eating one course at a time!
Sadly, after one more episode of First Dates, it was time to leave the hotel and get back to Essex for one last birthday meal! We were both really impressed with the hotel and loved every part of our stay! I'm sure we will be back in the future!